Don't betray America's elderly, Mr. President, in a futile effort to placate Republican Forces of Darkness! Recently, a New York Times lead story states clearly that you and your advisers have wrongheadedly decided to tamper with the benefits formula for social security, using the so called 'chain inflation' approach to reduce those minimal annual increases which merely compensate seniors for price increases. The same Times story makes clear the intent of your administration to also make adverse changes to medicare -- if those changes might get the Republicans to accept justified revenue increases. The reality is that your proposals will not move Republican opponents, and are doomed to failure, as well as being most unjust.
Albert Einstein was fond of saying that it is the height of human folly to think that the same experiment will produce different results if it is repeated enough times. You've already tried this type of "social experiment" repeatedly, by pandering to the Right Wing in Congress (more accurately termed the Wrong Wing.) Taking but one example, two years ago you yielded on the extension of those Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy in a futile attempt to get a budget deal with House Republicans. The result was the horrid sequestration process which is now underway -- as a host of vital programs get cancelled or postponed, while our States and municipalities find themselves in ever-deeper budget trouble. That "death of a thousand cuts" approach to government is not working well for America, Mr. President. Indeed, it never has.
Then, there are your years of promises that fundamental programs such as social security and medicare are not going to be the target of your administration's tampering. In addition to the fact that America's elderly have done their share -- often more than their share -- for this nation, making them poorer and less healthy by reducing social security and medicare is very poor public policy. These programs are funded separately from the annual Federal budget, and therefore fiddling with them does not necessarily reduce those annual budget deficits.
Hence, your cutback proposals are neither justified nor efficient -- nor will they bring recalcitrant Republicans on board. Rather, any such proposals will merely be seen and exploited, as in the past, as signs of weakness in your administration. You and your key staff will be hammered once again to make more and more concessions -- in a futile attempt to get Republicans to cooperate. Albert Einstein would indeed have understood that your "experimental" proposals cutting social security and medicare are not only unjust, they are also ineffective in bringing about an end to sequestration and a solid federal budget. Shame on you and your administration, for even trying!
Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)